Congratulations to Robert Batler, MD, a Urologist and Robotic Surgeon at Urology of Indiana. He was awarded the Top Honoree Health Care Hero in the “Advancements In Healthcare” category today by the Indianapolis Business Journal.
The award honors a company or individual primarily responsible for scientific discovery or for development of a new procedure, device or service that can save lives or improve quality of life for a large number of people.
Dr. Batler pioneered early adoption of transformative methods for prostate cancer detection to benefit patients throughout central Indiana. Though curable with early detection, prostate cancer remains the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in American men due to limitations in screening, including low accuracy “random sampling” prostate biopsy. This standard has persisted for decades, with patients often requiring multiple invasive biopsies. In 2014, technological improvements allowed for increased ability to identify prostate cancer using MRI; however, it required specially-trained radiologists and expensive MRI-fusion biopsy equipment which “fuses” the MRI images with real-time ultrasound to create a 3D model for targeted, rather than random, prostate biopsy.
Dr. Batler quickly recognized the benefit and necessity of introducing prostate MRI-fusion biopsy technology to men in central Indiana. He started the Urology of Indiana MRI-fusion prostate biopsy program in October 2015. It wasn’t until October 2017 that the American Urological Association released a Policy Statement recommending prostate MRI in the diagnosis of prostate cancer. By that time, Dr. Batler’s program had already provided this technology to nearly 1200 patients in central Indiana.
Dr. Batler recognized from the beginning that a widespread community-based group like Urology of Indiana required the technology to be mobile so it could be shared with different health systems. The problem was that it was designed to stay in one place and had never been mobilized before. He met with numerous MRI-fusion biopsy companies until he found one that could safely mobilize the device, then built the resources, infrastructure, and relationships locally to utilize the platform throughout central Indiana. The program now offers advanced prostate biopsy at 6 different centers, spanning across various competing health systems in central Indiana, allowing unrestricted access to men in central Indiana.
Through collaboration and collegial case review with radiologists, urologists, and pathology, Dr. Batler broke down the standard divisions that exist within patient care in central Indiana and brought these providers together to benefit patients. Radiologists from different health systems regularly meet and learn from each other along with Urology of Indiana urologists. They study the entire spectrum of the diagnostic process together to find ways to improve their imaging interpretation and biopsy techniques. Dr. Batler has also implemented a HIPAA-compliant mechanism to directly share biopsy results with the radiologists that interpreted the imaging, for further quality improvement.
Dr. Batler hasn’t devoted his skill and energy to this program for academic acclaim or publication. He recognized an opportunity and a need to improve the urologic care delivered to his community, then broke down barriers to implement it. Since inception, he has searched for ways to innovate and further grow the program to benefit all men and their families in central Indiana threatened by the diagnosis of prostate cancer. He has accomplished what has traditionally only been implemented at academic institutions and brought it out to the community, integrating it across different health systems, physician groups and facilities.